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I’m just ‘Brittney from Newcastle’

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If you asked 29-year-old Brittney Lee Saunders to describe herself in three words she might be inclined to choose “random”, “chatty” or even “bogan”.

But, the vivacious blonde is actually so much more than these three ingredients.

Since the publishing of seemingly endless YouTube videos throughout her teenage years, Brittney has become the businesswoman behind several successful brands – all based in her hometown of Newcastle.

Brittney amassed a whopping 1.04 million followers on YouTube by posting videos of her everyday teenage life.

Fast-forward six years and she is now the founder of FAYT The Label, FAYT Label Store, Form Active, Staple Swim, Outdo Collective, Outdo Espresso and Flamingo Coffee.

Yet, despite being rumoured to be worth more than $5 million, Brittney knows how to “keep it real”.

Spend more than half-an-hour with the effervescent creative and you’ll soon learn that what sets her apart from others is that she possesses and energy that is seemingly contagious.

She is not afraid of change, she harbours no self-doubt, and she is driven by the enthusiasm she creates, and others respond to.

“Everything I’ve ever done has just come from one of my random ideas,” she says.

“I believe things happen because they’re meant to.

“Maybe people have just come along for the ride because I’m consistent and I’m relatable.”

Brittney at home with her Dachshunds

It’s been this way since the former Newcastle High School student learned she had a knack for entertaining strangers via a new online platform that was gaining momentum at the time – YouTube.

By creating and posting online videos of herself talking to the camera about teenage life, Brittney soon gained a cult-like following.

“YouTube was just coming out,” she says.

“We had MySpace, but social media was just starting to get popular.

“This was before Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.”

Brittney was 14 years old at the time.

“It was all a bit of fun back then; you just recorded a video of yourself, and you uploaded it,” she said.

It’s a pastime she’d begun well before her teenage years, recording videos of herself chatting about her life using the webcam atop her desktop computer before she hit double-digits.

“It wasn’t for any reason, making the videos on movie maker was just a creative outlet for me,” she added.

But, by the time she started high school, online sharing platforms had joined the world wide web and Brittney’s chats expanded to include music videos her and friends made during sleepovers.

So began her YouTube journey, an experience she admits wasn’t always a positive one.

“Back then I was the only kid doing that and the kids in my year were starting to make fun of me, telling me I was weird,” she said.

“In their defence the videos were weird, I don’t blame them for picking on me.”

Brittany was asked by school staff to remove the videos from online.

But, she continued, until she dropped out of school in Year 11.

“I wasn’t interested in any subjects, or going to university, or having a career that needed further study… I just wanted to start working,” Brittney said.

Brittney and her sports clothing label Form Active

And, she did, trying her hand at everything from hospitality to retail, hairdressing to office admin.

“I never stayed in a job for longer than five minutes honestly,” she recalls with a laugh.

All while she continued making YouTube videos, by 18 they became more tutorial in nature as she tried her hand at make-up technique sharing.

“I wasn’t any good at doing makeup at all but that’s when the beauty guru era came to life online,” she said.

By the time she turned 21, Brittney Lee Saunders had 80,000 subscribers when her boss suggested she make YouTube her full-time career.

“I didn’t even know what that meant at the time,” she explained.

“I knew people were getting paid to talk about products before and after their videos, but I had no idea what an ‘influencer’ was.”

Since the day she quit her job Brittney says she has never looked back.

“It all snowballed from there, it kept growing, I pumped out videos, vlogs, I made makeup videos, videos of me trying on clothes, trying international candy, whatever.”

She was sent products to review and was fussy about which ones she promoted.

All the while she was amassing a league of followers.

“I think it was being consistent and having a personality people could relate to, never trying to be someone else online,” she said.

“I’ve always just been Brittney from Newcastle.”

Yet sharing your teenage years and early twenties under the constant scrutiny of a million strangers can’t always be smooth sailing.

Criticism is something the confident young woman has always had a knack of surviving.

People used to call me a bogan and I’d be like ‘is that such a bad thing?’, haven’t we all got a bit of bogan in us.

In 2017 Brittney launched FAYT The Label, an Australian-based fashion clothing brand retailing an array of items sized 6 to 24.

“I knew the YouTube thing wasn’t going to be forever, I knew it wasn’t sustainable,” she said.

“After making videos for other people’s brands, I wanted to do the same for my own.”

Launching from her own garage, she began a business plan she’d sourced entirely from the internet.

“We went down to Bunnings and got five tubs, we thought that would be enough. I made a website, did some designs, and sourced the packaging,” she said.

“Seriously, people ask me all the time ‘how did you learn all this stuff?’, I just googled it – the internet is amazing.”

Then from her garage to a store in Maryville and now King Street, the former YouTuber is transitioning and cementing her place as a savvy business tycoon, now with a team of 20.

She has aptly named the space that houses her headquarters Outdo.

“I called it Outdo because I felt like I was out doing myself with it. It’s a beautiful white space that can be transformed into anything,” she said.

And, the name FAYT (pronounced fate).

“I believe things happen because they’re meant to,” Brittney said.

“I think the number one thing that stops people from doing anything they want in life is just fear.

“It’s the way the world is, we’re all so worried about what other people think of us and the way we look, or a decision we made, what are my friends and family going to think.

“But, honestly, ever since I started making those videos in high school and not caring about what others think, this has been a progressive journey for me and I’m so glad for it all.”

In November, Brittney will open the doors to her first Sydney store – a retail space at Westfield Miranda.

It is the first step toward her dream of seeing FAYT The Label in every Australian city.

Her other commitment is to size.

“Most shops stop at size 14 which makes no sense at all because the average Australian woman is size 16,” she said.

“Yes size 16 – that means we all go this way, or that way, from size 16.

“I’m a curvier girl myself and I know how hard it is to find a pair of jeans that fit in all the right places.

“I put a lot of love into every piece I design, and I try to think of every woman.”

She has grown and she has changed, and she has allowed her followers to join her on that journey, but Brittney admits she feels there is still so much more for her to achieve.

“I don’t know where I’ll be in a year, I never know,” she said.

“A year ago, I didn’t know I’d be here, doing this, you just have to go on the journey, make random decisions and go with it.

“I always tell people around me they have to be open to change, it keeps life fun.

“I’d like to normalise changing your mind about things. It shouldn’t be frowned upon.”

From teen YouTuber to businesswoman in six years, what does her own evolution look like?

“I’m going to become the mayor of Newcastle,” Brittney said.

“Do I need to go to university to do that? Can I just do the fun parts? I’ll have to ask the mayor if she needs someone to take over.”

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